Outcome vs Process Goals

Have you heard about SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time bound) goals? That’s usually all you hear about this time of year! Of course it’s important for your goals to be SMART, or smart, for that matter!

boutcome vs process

What about outcome vs process goals?

Outcome Goals
Outcome goals are the end result you’re looking for. They’re proverbial marathon, not the sprint! Examples of Outcome goals:

  1. Run a PR at __________ distance
  2. Run a faster 5k
  3. Run without walking breaks

Outcome goals motivate us in a big way. The problem with outcome goals? They are usually things we don’t have total control over. We’ve all trained hard for a particular race or distance only to come up short on race day. That’s why runners say that you never know what race day will hand you. That’s why we try to train for the things we think race day will hand us, but we’ve all had races where unexpected things went wrong that no amount of training could have prepared us for.

Process Goals
This is exactly where process goals come in. These are goals that we can control.

Let’s take the outcome goal of running a particular race without taking walking breaks. The process goals are relatively simple:

  • Start with organized run/walk intervals
  • Gradually begin to increase your run interval and shorten your walk interval
  • Practice running shorter distances with no walk breaks at all when you think you’re ready
  • Gradually begin to increase your runs with no walking until you know you can run the distance without walking
  • Give yourself peace of mind by going further than the race distance (depending on how long it is, there is the law of diminishing returns, so if you’re training for a marathon, running beyond that distance opens you up to injury or illness — although there are those that swear by always running longer than the race distance)

There could be a lot of other process goals in that list: hire a coach; find a training plan that suits your desired outcome; make sure you have a solid base before training for your race; do running drills; strength train; make sure you work in rest days; make sure you leave yourself extra training time in case of injury or illness.

By now you’re probably thinking of some outcome goals for 2021, and what process goals will move you towards that outcome.

I admit I’ve struggled with enjoying the journey sometimes. I love to tick things off a list though! I look forward to exploring outcome goals vs process goals more. — Chocolaterunsjudy

Final Thoughts
We hear all the time that it’s the journey, not the destination. Of course outcomes are fantastic when we achieve them, but they can be oh-so-elusive, too.

There is a lot of satisfaction — and ease of mind! — in ticking off all your process goals. You will know that you did your very best. You will feel proud of every step you took towards your goal. You will feel a sense of accomplishment, whether or not you manage to meet your outcome goal.

ICYMI: I’ve covered Who & What in the Yin Yoga FAQ; now it’s time to explain when you should practice, which you’ll here.  If you have a question, drop it in the comments and I’ll cover it — eventually!

What outcome goals are you working on?

Have you thought about the process goals you need to complete to achieve your outcome goal? 

Or would you rather not think and just run? 

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Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with the new Runners’ Roundup linkup.

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